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You see an item in a shop and you are shocked by the low price tag. “Wow, this is so cheap, what a bargain!”. With a smile on your face, you walk out of the store with multiple items, all priced at approximately three euros each. These cheap products will definitely save you, the consumer, some money. How cool! But pause here. At what cost? Did I make sure that these items that are sold at such low prices aren’t negatively affecting people who are producing them? If you find a product that seems like it should be worth more, but isn’t, would you be curious as to how much money the worker received, that allowed the product to cost just a few Euros. Let’s talk about fair trade then.
When shopping, it is very important to consider that sometimes items that sell at such low prices have a negative impact on the people who are producing that item. If you find a product that seems like it should be worth more, but isn’t, the workers might be exploited in some way.
What is Fair Trade?
In simple terms, fair trade refers to assuring that people in developing counties are: paid a reasonable amount of money for their work, working in clean and safe conditions and that their environment is being protected. This aims to give workers a living wage, which provides them with necessities like food, water, shelter and education.
How does fair trade translate in the fashion industry?
When purchasing clothing, just like when you buy anything else, you should be aware of who made your clothes and what conditions they are working under. Three of Europe’s main importers: China, India and Bangladesh, tend to underpay their workers, and are known for having sweatshops, which provide little pay, extremely long working hours, unsafe/ unhealthy working conditions and overcrowding environments when making garments for consumers. Knowing that, please think twice next time when you are in a store: am I sure that I am not contributing to the mistreatment of workers?
Photo by Perry Grone on Unsplash
How to become aware of fair trade clothing
There are a few certifications and websites you should familiarize yourself with, if you are wanting to purchase socially responsible clothes!
- Fairtrade Textile Standard, by Fairtrade International: This standard is met if an array of worker and environmental aspects are met, for example the support of youth employment and apprenticeship programs and the banning of substances of high concern that may be injurious to human health and reproduction
- Fair Trade certified products, by Fair Trade USA: When buying products with this label, you can be sure that the product was made according to rigorous social, environmental, and economic standards. This includes things like driving individual empowerment and transparent supply chains.
- Fair Wear Foundation: This foundation collaborates with brands and formulates new ways in which they can produce clothing in a fairer way. They offer things like brand performance checks and complaints helplines where garment workers can lodge a complaint if they feel as if their rights are being violated.
- Shop ethical: This is a site in which you can search up brands in order to see how “ethical” they are. It displays this information in three categories: Praise, Criticism and information. It seeks to answer the question “What are you supporting when you shop?”
By doing your own research with the help of these certifications, websites and even investigating more into the brands you buy from often, it shows the clothing brands that you want something to change and are more willing to buy their clothes if they provide “people conscious” fashion.
Our brand and its commitment to support fair trade
At Reloop, we believe in fairness, also in fashion. We commit to fair wages and good working conditions, through working with a small manufacturer in Poland. It may be called fair trade, but we simply call it the right thing to do!
by Alexia Padayachee
- “Fairtrade Textile Standard.” Fairtrade International (FLO): Textile Standard, www.fairtrade.net/standards/our-standards/textile-standard.html.
- “Fair Trade Global Model.” Fair Trade Certified, www.fairtradecertified.org/why-fair-trade/our-global-model.
- “What We Do.” Fair Wear Foundation, www.fairwear.org/fair-wear-foundation/what-we-do/.
- “Shop Ethical! | Your Ethical Consumer Guide.” Shop Ethical, www.ethical.org.au/3.4.2/.